The show has dominated six months of TV for 15 years – so news that Simon was planning to scrap the traditional format came as a bombshell.
But in an exclusive interview, the show’s creator today lays out his four-year grand plan to overhaul his biggest TV brands — telling me he couldn’t stand idle and watch them succumb to an ongoing ratings slide.
In a bombshell series of revelations, the music mogul reveals:
-- There will be TWO series of The X Factor this year — one featuring celebrities and the other an “all-star” line-up of ex contestants
-- He’s launching Britain’s Got Talent: The Champions, which will run in addition to the normal show
-- X Factor judges Robbie and Ayda Williams and Louis Tomlinson are all being lined up for the new formats
Simon told The Sun: “I want to clear up any myths — because I’ve got some exciting news.
“I’ve had a meeting with ITV, I’ve told them what I think we’d like to do with X Factor because we’ve been waiting to have this opportunity.
“The time feels right, and it will be a huge change. We haven’t exactly confirmed the dates or the order of the shows, but essentially there are going to be two versions of X Factor running this year.
“I think it’s going to be huge, it’s the best I’ve felt about this show in years.”
The overhaul will see a celebrity edition of the show and an all-star edition run back-to-back later this year, after he halted plans to begin production on the usual public auditions this month.
He added: “I’m waiting for confirmation this week on some dates and clarification on the second show, but all we’re trying to do is upgrade and glamorise the show.
“ITV wanted the regular X Factor and, as I’ve told you before, we’ve been offered a new five-year deal on both formats, which we haven’t agreed to yet.
“We just want to get this part cleared up first.
“Then next year the main X Factor show will change again and we’ve got something very, very exciting, that I can’t get into yet, but it’s a four-year plan.”
Simon also revealed his scheme to introduce a second annual series of Britain’s Got Talent – following the success of his latest franchise America’s Got Talent: The Champions.
He explained: “So we’ve now got AGT and we’ve got AGT Champions. That was a very good change so there will be a BGT Champions. We are 100 per cent not resting on our laurels.
“I would never want to sit and watch a show like The X Factor slowly fade away and fail but there is only one risk and that’s doing nothing. That is what I call a risk.”
Despite his shock announcements, Simon admits he still has many issues to iron out before he is able to finalise the plans — including how to stretch the new formats over every weekend of the second half of this year.
He added: “It runs for bloody months. No other show can run for months, it’s like putting on a soap opera every year, so that’s what we’ve got to work out, but I’ve got a plan.”
“Now we’ve just got to get the dates sorted.”
Simon then joked: “But don’t give too much away, I don’t want my competitors to know.”
What is clear in his mind is that Robbie Williams is key in his plans for the future as he bids to keep last year’s new-look X Factor judging panel in place for the overhauled shows.
He said: “I think and hope the panel will be the same.
“I’m literally speaking to Robbie tonight because he’s been busy, I’ve been filming, so I’ll have more news again on that soon.”
Whatever anyone thinks of Simon’s shows, nobody could ever accuse him of being predictable.